There’s a little bit more than local bragging rights on the line tonight as Brentford and Fulham go head-to-head in the Championship play-off final behind-closed doors at Wembley.
Victory for Fulham would see the club return to the Premier League after just one season away, while the Bees are bidding to reach the top-flight for the first time since 1947.
Nothing could separate the two sides in a regular season which began 367 days ago, with Brentford finishing above their rivals on goal difference after the pair accumulated 81 points apiece.
Both also overcame Welsh opposition in the form of Cardiff and Swansea to reach the play-off final, and now they’ll battle it out against each other for the chance to dine at the top table next season.
It’s a game which promises to be total rollercoaster ride from start to finish, and it’s one we’ve previewed below.
This is a play-off final like no other, and as such there are several different ways you can read it. First off, Fulham have history in this part of North London having won promotion via the same route little over two years ago.
By comparison, this is Brentford’s ninth play-off campaign, and in all eight of their appearances so far, they’ve failed to win promotion. This is no ordinary Bees team, though, and that’s something Fulham will be all too aware of.
Thomas Frank’s men have done the double over them this season, winning 1-0 in December and 2-0 in the first game back after the restart; Said Benrahma and Emiliano Marcondes sealing victory with two late goals.
In fact, since Brentford were promoted to the Championship in 2014, the Bees have only lost once in ten league meetings – a 0-2 reverse back in November 2016. Could that play a significant factor in tonight’s outcome?
Our traders think so, with the Griffin Park club marked up as odds-on favourites to win promotion at 4/7, and 23/20 to win inside 90 minutes. Fulham, on the other hand, are 13/10 for promotion and 13/5 to win in 90 minutes.
Both sides possession incredible attacking talent, but play-off finals are a daunting occasion, and six of the last seven have produced Under 2.5 Goals. We go 4/7 for a similar outcome in this evening’s match.
Brentford have no fresh injury concerns to worry about which means boss Thomas Frank could name an unchanged side from last week’s semi-final victory over Swansea.
Benrahma, Ollie Watkins and Bryan Mbeumo will continue their BMW partnership up-front, while midfielder Christian Norgaard provides the important lynchpin in midfield.
Fulham are sweating on the fitness of top-scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic, who missed both legs of the semi-final against Cardiff and Neeskens Kebano, who was forced off at Craven Cottage last week.
Both players are touch-and-go for tonight’s final, with Bobby Decordova-Reid and Ivan Cavaleiro their most likely replacements. Tom Cairney is the man who makes the Cottagers tick in midfield.
There’s no shortage of prospective goalscorers for either side, although it’s mercurial forward Benrahma who has been the man for the big occasion this season.
The Algerian ace has been in red-hot form since the restart with seven goals to his name, and it’s a 21/10 chance he finds the net again tonight.
26-goal man Watkins is the favourite at 17/10, while Fulham’s inability to defend set-pieces could make defender Ethan Pinnock and interesting proposition at 14/1.
Scott Parker will be sweating on the fitness of the division’s joint-top scorer Mitrovic, and our traders make him a 9/5 shot to add to his season’s tally of 26 goals.
Reid is next best at 11/4 if the Serbian hitman misses out, while Cairney is available at 4/1 to repeat his heroics at Wembley from two years ago and find the net once again.
Where: Wembley Stadium, London
When: 19:45, Tuesday 4th August 2020.
How to watch: Sky Sports Main Event / Sky Sports Football
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.